Halifax – Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

1055 Marginal Road

Canada is geographically separated from Europe by the Atlantic Ocean, and the continental eastern coast point of Canada is Halifax thus explaining the reason why Halifax was, for years, the first landing point to new residents. That was until 1971 when air travel became more accessible and faster than by sea.

It is at this exact place, Pier 21, that the first steps were taken by immigrants and that soldiers left to defend our nation. On the dock, I have to admit that I was emotional, a new start for many families that forms today our peaceful and respectful country. 

The tour explains the process of welcoming sometimes thousands of people at the same time and only a few could enter at a time. This delay must have been interminable and once inside the building there was more waiting time for the validation of documents, permission to enter and screening of the luggage to finally enter. Health screening was performed and quarantine areas were set up within the building for examinations.

A train station was nearby to facilitate the other part of their journey to the west when applicable. A wagon replica is also within the walls of the museum to give a further sense of the style and conditions of the time.

The waiting room, the dock, examples of child luggage and the typical food offerings are presented in one part of the museum.  Stories, evolution of Canada’s immigration laws and international events that led to requests for refugees are described in other sections of the museum.

Some people and families have revisited this place years after their arrival to commemorate their new beginning.

I found this place thought-provoking and improved my knowledge of the different context of immigration in Canada over the years.